Many people set a goal to hit the gym and sweat more to lose weight and get that rockin’ body. But working out and moving your body daily is so much more than a weight loss goal, the benefits that come to the part of your body above the neck are beyond any number on the scales. 

Regardless of your age, fitness level, or size, the evidence is strong for the mental health benefits that we can all receive from moving our bodies. 

The research continues to grow showing that getting your blood pumping is a great way to slow down the aging process, help prevent depression, keep stress at bay, and even protect your brain size! 

Get inspired to move your body with these 13 surprising ways movement can improve your life: 

1. Boosts Happy Chemicals 

Ever heard of the runners or yogi high? Moving your body may feel tough at the time, but the post-workout feeling of happiness and euphoria is well worth it! When we exercise our body naturally produces endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that interact with the receptors of our brains, reducing the perception of pain, and increasing the positive feelings in your body. Regular exercise has also been shown to increase happy hormones; dopamine and serotonin levels.  

2. Increases Energy 

Ironically, a short sweat sesh can give you a natural energy boost for the day! How? Movement boosts blood circulation in the body, helping to strengthen circulation through the heart muscles which can result in increased energy levels. 

3. Prevents Cognitive Decline 

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been linked to the reduction and prevention of mental illnesses and overall increased functioning of the brain. BDNF is a crucial protein produced inside nerve cells (neurons) which builds and maintains the circuits (synapses) allowing the signals to travel within the brain. BDNF has been found to be the most susceptible to regulation by exercise and physical activity. Research indicates a consistent aerobic exercise routine supports a sufficient supply of BDNF.

4. Boosts Brain Power and Sharpens Memory 

Along with boosting the production of BDNF for cognitive decline, regular exercise will also help to increase the production of neurogenesis in the brain (creation of new cells). New brain cells help to increase the overall performance of our brains, while also helping to sharpen our memories. Studies have shown these results in both children and adults! 

5. Helps You Sleep Better 

Keeping up a regular exercise routine can improve your sleep quality due to the benefits that come from reducing stress and anxiety. Even just 5 minutes of exercise per day can trigger the anti-anxiety responses in the body. If you suffer from insomnia or have trouble getting to sleep, try exercise such as yoga. Yoga will help balance the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax and lower cortisol levels naturally. 

6. Reduces Stress 

So this one might not be surprising to most, but there is a good reason for why your sweat session helps reduce stress. Exercise increase norepinephrine in the body, a chemical that helps to moderate your brain’s response to daily stresses.

7. Improves Self-Confidence 

And we’re not talking about a number on the scales! Getting your body moving is going to have a positive effect on many areas throughout your life; including how you see yourself! Regardless of your fitness level, you’re going to start feeling a more positive outlook on your self-worth! 

8. Inspires Others 

Find a workout buddy and get moving! Research has shown that people perform better when they are working out with someone else or as a team. One of the reasons we are kicking off our #ILikeToMoveIt Community Challenge on November 4. 

9. Boosts Productivity and Creativity 

Getting the body moving can be a great way to boost your productivity and creativity! Research has shown that this boost that lasts up to 2 hours post-workout! Start your day with exercising or hit the track on your lunchbreak to reset for the afternoon. Supercharge your workout by taking it outdoors as research shows that nature can give us the same boost! 

10. Strengthens Bones 

Think your muscles are the only ones to benefits from exercise? Just like your muscles, your bones are living tissue that requires strengthening, especially as we age! Weight-bearing exercises in particular help new bone issue form helping to keep our bones strong and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

11. Increase in Metabolism 

Your metabolism is responsible for a number of chemical reactions throughout the body and while there are many ways you can improve your metabolism, exercise is one of the best! The higher your metabolic rate, the high amount of calories you burn throughout the day. Without putting too much focus on weight loss, increasing your metabolic rate also helps the chemical reactions occur that keep your body alive and functioning! Mixing up your exercise routine and adding in a couple of high-intensity workouts can help boost your metabolism.  

12. Improves the Immune System 

Just like a healthy diet, regular exercise can contribute to a healthy functioning immune system. From what we have covered so far exercising regularly can reduce your stress, boosting your blood circulation, and cell regeneration which all contribute to help you maintain a healthy immune system! 

13. Leads to Healthier Habits

Creating healthy habits and rituals in your day is a sure way to create more joy and happiness while improving your health! Movement is one of our top 7 morning rituals for this reason. Starting your day with movement will help improve your mood and focus for the day, leading to making more conscious choices throughout your day! 

Now you know there are so many amazing health benefits of moving your body, are you ready for a challenge? 

On the 4th of November, we're kicking off our #ILikeToMoveIt movement challenge as a community! For 7 days, we will be sharing some of our favorite FREE 10-minute classes & tips to boost your daily movement. 

Regardless of your age or fitness level, the evidence is strong for the mental health benefits that we can all receive from moving our bodies. Want to join us? Head to the Private Facebook Food Matters Community to follow along!